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28/05/2010
RISING STAR NCHOLAS MUELLER

Rod Gilmour catches up with the rising Swiss star, who started 2010 under scrutiny by compatriot Roger Federer and will end the year doing military service

Click image for larger view
Pressure is of little concern to this 20-year-old, who lives at home in Zurich with his parents and is clearly revelling in life on the world tour.

Müller, a former European Junior champion, admits to having had “no real off-season” during his short career. Since finishing high school last year and turning professional he has been inching towards no.41 in the rankings, the top ranking of his idol Lars Harms, the highest-ranked Swiss player ever, and is now just a single point behind him.

“Both my parents played,” says the 6’ 3’’ right-hander, who first picked up a racket as a five-year-old. “And I kept on watching them.” So much so that he played in his first World Junior Open at 14. 

Having won 15 matches on the trot at the start of 2009, Müller has a relaxed outlook but he knows his strengths and what needs seeing to. “It is a big plus being tall. I have to bend further to play drop shots but there are more advantages.”

Malcolm Willstrop knows all about coaching tall players – his son James is one centimetre taller than Müller – and believes the Swiss is a future top 20 player. He says: “He is elegant and composed and there is little fuss in his play.”

But Müller concedes he still has much to learn. “I am an attacking player and like to go for shots – maybe a bit too often. I was always told at junior level to play steadier because my opponents knew I was going short to get an opening. I have trouble with this one short to get an opening. I have my style but I just have to perfect it.”

Another Swiss racket sport player who has certainly perfected his art is Roger Federer, and Müller says it was “an inspiring moment” when the two met. Talk predictably turned to ‘squash’ shots on the tennis court – "the fancy shots – the ones he hits between his legs,” recalls Müller, “but what I learned was the way he is. The way he talks and trains is so professional and I tried to pick up tips from that.”

Perhaps his 18 weeks of military service will reinforce his own professionalism. In any case, Nicholas Müller is a name to watch.

 

   

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